【Toshiba】 TR-17 Mail Sorter

The TR-17 automatic mail address reader and sorter read not only three-digit and five-digit postal codes but also domestic addresses written in kanji characters so that mail items could be sorted by delivery routes of individual postal delivery workers. The first TR-17 system was delivered to the Adachi Post Office in 1989 and the second system to the Kyobashi Post Office the following year.

Sorting by post office [Note 1] had been automated with the automatic postal code reading technology implemented on the TR-3 and the TR-4 and later improvements to the technology. But sorting by delivery route [Note 2] still had to be done manually. For the TR-17, Toshiba developed a technology that recognized more than 2,000 kanji characters, both handwritten and printed, which enabled automated sorting of mail items by delivery route.

The basic specifications of the TR-17 were as follows:

  • Able to recognize more than 2,000 kanji characters, both handwritten and printed, as well as hiragana characters, katakana characters, letters, numbers, and symbols
  • Able to read prefectures, municipalities, some districts (district, block, and house number), and names of large complexes
  • Able to process 20,000 mail items per hour through a six-stage pipeline process
  • Used the multiple similarity method and outline structure matching to recognize characters
  • 150 sorting slots

Note 1: Post office sorting: sorting submitted mail items to the destination post offices

Note 2: Delivery route sorting: sorting mail items to individual delivery routes

Toshiba TR-17 mail sorter  

In the explanation for OCR, terminology from OCR Catalogue Glossary (Version 2) published by the Japan Electronics and Information Technology Industries Association is used.Please refer to this Glossary for meanings of terms used.